And so another school year begins. Same old, same old? Well, not quite. This September sees the arrival of sixth forms at local secondary schools. Did we say ‘arrival’, we actually meant return after a very long absence. It’s a move that has been welcomed by many residents although it’s not without its critics either, mainly over the cost. For the last 30 plus years, the provision of state sixth form education in Richmond boiled down to a choice of one establishment, Richmond College here in sunny ol’ Twickenham. Does a choice of one option really constitute a choice? We’re not sure. Either way, things have changed. Twickenham Academy took its first sixth form pupils in 2012 and now Waldegrave and Orleans Park follow suit. The Council’s new “post 16 partnership” comprises eight secondary schools in LBRuT, including Twickenham Academy, Waldegrave and Orleans Park, plus Richmond upon Thames College and even Richmond Adult Community College (yes, they do offer some courses for younger students). The range of options offered by this initiative is likely to have an impact on numbers signing up for A Levels at Richmond College and it also might prompt a reduction in the number of local kids defecting to Strode’s or Esher Colleges for their post-16 education.
All the necessary building work is not yet complete – perhaps that could become a case study for any ‘A’ Level Business Studies students out there – but September’s intake will be topping up their ink wells and breaking out fresh nibs regardless. Not all the schools are offering the same courses and there’s a document online to help prospective students navigate their way around the options for future admissions.
Meanwhile, plans for the new education campus on Richmond College’s Egerton Road site took a bit of a twist back in July when Haymarket Media announced that it would no longer be moving all of its operations from Teddington to the Twickenham site but would only be moving 20 around staff to support the new ‘tech hub’ on the campus. The company are said to be seeking a new base for their HQ elsewhere in the borough. The decision is a significant scaling back of the original plan but also serves to allay some local concerns about the scale of the whole development. According to an El Brute spokesman Haymarket’s decision would not affect the funding of the scheme nor its timetable. Work is due to begin in summer 2015.
Education, education, education. Have El Brute got this sixth form thing right? Marks out of ten, please?